Tom Chick

Is Write ‘n’ Fight for real? Find out early tomorrow!

, | News

Write ‘n’ Fight has every sign of being a gag instead of an actual game. And even if it is an actual game, it’s just a very very indie fighting game. But as far as gags go, I’ve seen a lot worse than shirtless Hemingway stylishly fending off Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s infamous right hook. “REFLECTION CAPTURES NEED TO BE REBUILT,” Hemingway thinks urgently.

According to an email bcc’ed to me from a Gmail account claiming to represent the game, Write ‘n’ Fight will be released on Steam tomorrow morning for 40% less than whatever undisclosed price it will cost. And the only reason I’m curious about it — Lovecraft wouldn’t have stood a chance against shirtless Hemingway — is because there’s apparently a turn-based mode where you and your opponent enter a string of moves that are then executed in order. Which is exactly how I like to play my fighting games: while I’m doing something else instead.

Orphan: First Kill: if you thoughts hobbits were awkward…

, | Movie reviews

Director Jaume Collet-Serra gave the original Orphan the Hitchcockian touches it needed to be more than just a throwaway evil kid movie. And it had a great cast. Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga know what they’re doing. But what made Orphan stand out was Isabelle Fuhrman’s performance. She was a new kind of evil kid. So innocent looking, of course, but so off-kilter with the Little Bo Peep ruffled dresses, the lace choker and ribbons around her wrists, and the Estonian accent. Who even knows what an Estonian accent sounds like? But the diminutive Miss Fuhrman — she was 11 years old when they shot Orphan in 2006 — was a powerhouse, and she carried the movie with ease. (To see her carry another movie, check out The Novice from 2021. She shows off a physical intensity you usually only get with action movies and fight scenes.)

So it’s great that she’s back in an Orphan sequel, right? Well, kind of. Since her character died at the end of the first movie, this has to be a prequel. But the actress is an adult now, so how can she play Esther, who is a couple years younger than she was in the original? I mean, yeah, the twist is that she’s a grown woman trapped in a child’s body, but no one would look at Isabelle Fuhrman today and mistake her for an eleven-year-old child, much less a nine-year-old child.

So Orphan: First Kill made the, uh, interesting decision to cheat.

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Qt3 Movie Podcast: Nope

, | Movie podcasts

Nope writer and director Jordan Peele seems to like horror movies as much as we do. We’re divided on this particular one, but at least we agree we saw something we’d never seen in a movie before. Given our long and storied careers watching movies, that’s quite an accomplishment!

Up next: Prey

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Marvel and Meaning, Part 1: Just Bananas

, | Features

When I need food, I drive past the local grocery at the bottom of my hill and hang a right on the way to the Von’s, a chain supermarket farther down the boulevard. But today I just need bananas and I’m not driving through a half dozen stoplights just for dang bananas. I will, however, drive to the local grocery at the bottom of the hill. So, hello again, local grocery. I haven’t seen you since I realized you don’t carry kale. On this muggy summer weekday afternoon, I’m here for a couple of whatever sad bananas you’ve got in your bin, hopefully more yellow than black.

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Qt3 Movie Podcast: Thor: Love and Thunder

, | Movie podcasts

Welcome to the single most extensively researched episode of the Quarter to Three Movie Podcast. Tom Chick and Kelly Wand have pored over the source material for Taika Waititi’s latest Thor and they bring their expertise to bear in an extensive discussion of space vikings, theology, magic weapons, god butchery, kids, and comic books. You have been warned. Speaking of warning you about things, we also saw Black Phone, which we start talking about at the 1-hour, 24-minute mark.

Up next: Crimes of the Future

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Qt3 Movie Podcast: The Innocents (and Thelma)

, | Movie podcasts

Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt co-wrote a script for Thelma, which Trier directed. Now Vogt has written and directed his own script for The Innocents, which has a lot in common with Thelma. We take advantage of the overlap for a twofer podcast on Thelma and The Innocents, and according to Tom Chick, you should watch Thelma first. According to Kelly Wand– Wait, what’s going on? Something’s…off.

Up next: Thor: Love and Thunder

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Qt3 Movie Podcast: Top Gun: Maverick

, | Movie podcasts

Tom “Marmoset” Chick and Kelly “Tagline” Wand drive up the onramp, adjust their rear view mirrors, activate their turn signal, and carefully merge onto the highway to the danger zone! But why is Marmoset upset that real F-18s don’t fly like that? And why is Tagline hung up on what became of Kelly McGillis’ character? Can’t they just enjoy their 80s nostalgia like the rest of America? Tune in and find out!

Up next: The Innocents (and Thelma!)

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Qt3 Movie Podcast: Men

, | Movie podcasts

Tom Chick and Kelly Wand join Jessie Buckley and Rories Kinnear for an unnerving vacation in the English countryside. Are they all in a horror movie, an allegory, both, or neither? And what do we mean when we talk about whether a movie is “scary”? What’s the last movie that scared us? Finally, if you thought the final scene of Men was disturbing, just wait until the synopsis version!

Up next: Top Gun: Maverick

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Uh, something’s very very different in Back 4 Blood

, | News

Remember back when Wizards of the Coast updated Magic the Gathering by changing the hand size of your initial draw? Rather than drawing seven cards, you instead just took your full deck into your hand. It made every match more exciting by simultaneously giving the players more choice and more power. It was the final tweak that Magic the Gathering needed to become the monster success we know today. In fact, if Wizards of the Coast hadn’t made that change, you would probably never have heard of Magic the Gathering. It would have languished in obscurity along with all those other card games with small hand sizes of five, six, or seven cards.  

Today, something similar happened to another card game called Back 4 Blood. The developers at Turtle Rock released a major update and now, at last, Back 4 Blood is the game it wants to be. Since I’m a huge fan of the game (scroll down to #3), let me tell you all about it!

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Midnight Protocol hacks into the sweet spot between storytelling and strategy

, | Game reviews

One of my fondest early videogame memories is playing the 1988 adaptation of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. It was just a point-and-click adventure game, but it had a cyberspace to hack into. Once you got in, you could subvert and solve stuff in the point-and-click parts of the game. This interplay between cyberspace and meatspace was my introduction to hacking. Real hacking, not that stuff in Matthew Broderick movies. Here was a way to sneak around guards, get through locked doors, activate switches, and generally get away with stuff I wasn’t supposed to do. Here was stealth gameplay that didn’t mean standing in the dark parts of the level design, memorizing patrol routes, and reloading the game when I got spotted. This was stealth for guys like me fascinated by systems within systems within systems. If I could handle the MFDs in an F-19, by golly, I could upgrade my deck to slip past some ICE!

It’s been an interesting stretch for hacking games, but hacking too often means “doing some minigames”. 

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Top ten games of 2021

, | Features

In 2021, I finally came to appreciate the Hitman games, although part of appreciating them is realizing how little they’ve progressed since their latest model. Hitman III is great, to be sure. But it’s also just more levels for Hitman I, so this would easily make my list of top ten games of 2016. When it came to roguelikes, I enjoyed Returnal’s dark sci-fi/horror aesthetic despite my inability to get past Housemarque’s trademark “get good” barrier. Imagine Earth was a smartly focused planetary development game based on head to head competition with other players. It was a realtime boardgame, really. Although unlike a boardgame, it’s hard to read, and not just because the developers thought it would be cute to make you spin a 3D globe instead of look at a map. Remember, developers, 3D globes are never a good idea. 

The goofy excesses of Outriders and Necromunda: Hired Gun were my gunplay of choice in 2021. Halo Infinite was a welcome change, focusing on what it does best in a sandbox instead of in corridors (at least until the end), with easily skippable cutscenes and multiplayer I can ignore because if Halo players are mad at it, I’m sure not going to want to play it. Speaking of, I have no intention of buying whatever iPad alternatives Microsoft is pushing, so I wish they would stop saddling games with godawful tablet interfaces in an attempt to get me to buy some dumb hardware. Jamming big square panels onto Age of Empires IV, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo: Infinite just reminds me that these games are published by the same people who thought the Kinect was a good idea. 

I was disappointed with Deathloop, a massive step backwards from the Mooncrash DLC for Prey that inspired it. Other notable disappointments include Riftbreaker for being a thrilling wide-open resource-management action-RPG…that had nowhere to go. SGS’ Halls of Montezuma and especially Heia Safari explored fascinating historical crannies wargames rarely visit, but they were undone by the usual wargaming bugbears of bad AIs and worse interfaces. Red Solstice 2: Survivors took the first games’ promising action RPG and turned it into an unsupported multiplayer boondoggle. Guardians of the Galaxy was all the splashly dialogue, the splashier color, and the gameplay of your favorite Marvel movie. 
Those are some titles that didn’t make the top ten, despite me spending a fair amount of time with them. Which leads us to the games that did make the list…

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